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24
March
2022

Russian diplomat: If NATO threatens us we have the right to press the nuclear button

The Russian deputy ambassador to the UN says Russia retains the right to use nuclear weapons if the country is “provoked” by NATO.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, one of Russia’s top diplomats in the United States, spoke to Sky News after Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said his boss could push the nuclear button if the country feels it is facing an “existential” threat.

Asked if Putin was right to hold the prospect of nuclear war over the rest of the world, Mr Polyanskiy said: “If Russia is provoked by NATO, if Russia is attacked by NATO, why not, we are a nuclear power.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to be saying. But it’s not the right thing to threaten Russia, and to try to interfere. So when you’re dealing with a nuclear power, of course, you have to calculate all the possible outcomes of your behaviour.”

Mr Polyanskiy spoke to Sky News from inside Russia’s mission to the UN in New York, where pictures of Vladimir Putin adorn the walls, surely one of few places left in Manhattan where the Russian president would still be welcome.

Between sips of lemon tea, the deputy ambassador dismissed the formal declaration by the US government that members of the Russian armed forces are guilty of war crimes in Ukraine.

“I don’t think we’re committing war crimes in Ukraine,” Mr Polyanskiy said. “Of course, it’s not up to me to assess. I’m not there. You’re not there. You’re looking at the videos, you’re looking at the many of videos which are considered to be fake news. You believe one thing, I believe another thing.”

I showed the deputy ambassador photographs taken by Associated Press journalists in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, depicting apartment blocks hit by Russian missiles and bodies of Ukrainian children being buried in narrow trenches but he refused to acknowledge Russia is responsible.

He made the preposterous claim that Ukraine is attacking its own buildings and civilians. “They were not targeted,” Mr Polyanskiy said. “We said from the very beginning, that our military is not a threat for the civilian population Ukraine.”

It will be up to the International Criminal Court to determine if Russia is guilty of war crimes in Ukraine but Russia’s diplomats are cutting increasingly isolated figures with their wild claims of fake news.

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